The three steps to disruption

We use the term ‘disruption’ to describe positive change, the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together. It is the meeting point between personal passion and potential. To establish and sustain ‘disruption’, you need to ‘dare’ to think differently; you need to ‘design’ your direction and have the discipline to ‘do’ & make it happen. How do we find the freedom in ourselves and in others? There isn’t a rigid formula. Disruption is different for everyone. In fact, that’s the point. However the 3D model provides a framework that will ask the questions that will prompt thinking about this and knowing what to look for and what to do. What applies to yourself, also applies to your brand, problem or challenge.

One of the key principles of Disruption is that we need to challenge what we take for granted about our abilities and the abilities of other people. It is amazing that when I ask an audience to rate themselves on a creativity scale invariably people rate themselves no higher than the middle. Most people become sheepish and blurt out “I am not creative”. It is my belief that we all have creative talents, however for most, these talents have been squashed as we progressed through school and into the workforce. It is not the ‘special’ people who are creative. Everyone is born with tremendous capacities for creativity. The trick is to develop these capacities. It will ‘dare’ you to remove yourself from your current paradigm or rut and build the confidence to make you ‘dream’ big. As soon as we have the power to release our minds from the immediate here and now, in a sense we begin the journey of being ‘free’. We are free to revisit the past, free to reframe the present, and free to anticipate a whole range of possible futures. The key to creativity is that it requires you to build the ideas into a passion and to actually do something rather than lie around thinking about it.

Organisations that ‘dare to disrupt’: align workplace and personal purpose. Enable a culture that builds creative confidence and creates communities whereby passions flourish.

As William James stated in the 19th Century: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their mind…If you change your mind, you can change your life.”

This is the real power of creativity and the true promise of finding your self-disruption!

Building your creative confidence means that you understand:

  • The difference between imagination and creativity
  • The power of thinking differently in releasing more of your creative potential
  • The tools and techniques to make your creativity fire
  • The process to make your ideas stick

I loved reading Bill Taylor’s HBR article about the recent Takeover of Whole Foods by Amazon. To me it was a leading disruptor who ‘dared’ to takeover another iconic disruptor. Yes it hit the news due to the $14b tag but to me it outlined the expansive design that Jeff Bezos has for Amazon & has enforced to attain greatness. Bill asks a great question: “does this deal signal the beginning of the end for the so-called new economy, or is it more like the end of the beginning”? A great question for Design. Not only does Disruption come with great responsibility, but it also shows that success sows the seeds of its own undoing, unless you keep rethinking how you succeed.

Design thinking is definitely in vogue and whilst I see its origins in all great problem solvers (designers or not), I do love the design emphasis of human centred prototyping. At its heart is purpose & identity. This is applicable for individuals and teams.

Personal Design

What is the purpose of life or your brand? This is a BIG question! When people find their disruptive zone it is because they can connect with something fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose and wellbeing. Being there provides a sense of self -revelation, of defining who they really are and what they’re really meant to be doing with their lives. This is why people who understand their identity and what their life purpose is, will often define it as an ‘epiphany’.

To understand your identity you have to know what you stand for. This comes from self-reflection as well listening to other people’s opinions of you. For many of us, this is easier said than done. Understanding your identity is like eating an artichoke. You need to pull away the leaves to get to the core – the driver of your passions. Understanding your identity is an integral part of finding your disruption. A key to finding your freedom is to know what your aptitudes are.

Aptitudes are the natural talents that you are born with or the root strengths your brand exudes. Some aptitudes are evident early in life and some emerge when the opportunity arises. But being in a disruptive zone is more than doing things you are good at. Many people are good at things they don’t really care for. To find your disruptive zone you have to love it, too. As Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Getting to the core of your identity you need to delve into the following:

  • Who you are (personality, values, essence)?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your passions?
  • Where are you now? What’s next?
  • What is your story?

Organisational Design

In Francis Brill’s super relevant article How Design Thinking impacts the way teams work he outlines the glue that design brings in an effort of deepening what we know and widening the impact of what we do. The impetus design brings to disruption is outlined:

  1. Design Thinking gives us the building blocks to focus on
  2. Design Thinking makes us project-focussed not title-focussed
  3. Design Thinking cultivates multi-disciplinary teams
  4. Design Thinking teams expect collaboration
  5. Design Thinking is an iterative process
  6. Design Thinking teams recruit their stakeholders/clients
  7. Design Thinking teams sees constraints as opportunities
  8. Design Thinking teams do not look back to predict the future
  9. Design Thinking teams welcomes failure
  10. Design Thinking makes people happy

A key part of Design is using proprietary tools and frameworks to outline the process where you can find your purpose, your idea, your story et al. Design helps build the bridge between the daring aspiration and the gritty ‘doing’.

Noted disruptor Jorge Barba stated in Either You Drive Disruption Or You’re Outpaced By It that thinking differently isn’t enough, you have to act differently.

Of course disruption requires all of us to think differently. We need to design a path to make disruption happen. We can have insights to springboard. We can have the best ideas to inspire. Yet if we don’t have impact, disruption will not take place. To have impact we must flex our ‘do’ muscle.

To ‘DO’ is to be in ‘FLOW’. To be in flow is to be in the deep heart of self- disruption. We live in the moment. We become lost in the experience and perform at our peak. One of the strongest signs of being in ‘flow’ is when we are conducting an activity that we have ability in and are equally passionate about. When we are in flow we feel we are doing what we are meant to be doing and being who we’re meant to be.

In his groundbreaking work Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes of a “state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered and people want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake”. To get in this zone you must have your heart, spirit, mind & body in synch. Being in flow brings us energy in abundance even if we are physically exhausted. This is why finding what you love, being good at it and being in flow is vital for every person.

It is as though being in flow provides access to a special power pack – whereby you receive more energy than you expand. Energy is the cornerstone of our life. Experiencing flow is empowering because it unifies our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies. Flow provides a deep connection to our identity and brings peace with doing what you are doing. It’s a profound sense of being in your skin, of connecting to your own internal pulse or energy.

However we get there, being in flow is a powerful and transformative experience. So powerful that it can be addictive, yet an addiction that is healthy for you in so many ways.

To be in a state of Flow we explore the dynamics of:

  • The power of enabling your heart, spirit, mind and body to be in balance.
  • Flow is the essential ingredient to disrupt.

According to Jorge, to do we must:

  • Understand that standarization is the enemy of innovation; you’re anchored to your existing practices, standards and culture.
  • Sharpen your business acumento keep up with emerging technologies; ask yourself tough why, how, what and what if questions.
  • Challenge your assumptions by experimenting. It’s not enough to just read about a technology, you need to experiment; there is no innovation without experimentation.

Organizations that drive disruption understand that change isn’t about rationalizing why something won’t happen, it’s about considering how things could be better if you decide to DO something about it.

Bottom line: Innovation doesn’t respect tradition. Either you DO disruption or you’re outpaced by it.

Finding the ability to disrupt is essential to your wellbeing and ultimate success and by implication to the health of your organisation. I believe strongly that if we can find this space, we all have the potential for much higher achievement and fulfilment. I don’t mean that there is an actor, AFL superstar or Nobel winning economist in all of us. I mean we all have distinctive talents and passions that can inspire us to achieve far more than we can imagine. Understanding this changes everything. It also offers us our best and perhaps our only promise for genuine and sustainable success in a very uncertain future.

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